EUGENE — Winning a state championship is always memorable.
But Saturday’s Class 2A/1A title was extra special for Union/Cove boys cross country Head Coach Steve Sheehy.
The championship was the 20th in program history — boys and girls combined — since the Bobcats’ first state title 40 years ago.
That number breaks a tie between Union/Cove and 6A power Jesuit, both of which entered the day with 19 titles, the most in the state, regardless of classification, according to Sheehy.
There are also deep connections for the Bobcats’ coach. His brother, Jim, ran on the 1978 championship squad, placing fifth on the team. Saturday, Steve’s son, Matthew Sheehy, ran for championship team No. 20 and — you guessed it — placed fifth on the team.
And to tie it all together, the ’78 team scored 44 points for a dominant win. The 2018 team scored — yes — 44 points for a dominant win.
“This one’s pretty special,” said Steve Sheehy, who guided the
Bobcats to his 12th title as a coach.
Tim Stevens easily won his second state title in three seasons with a time of 15:33, more than 40 seconds ahead of runner-up Jedaiah Wasson from East Linn Christian.
“I don’t know what else you can say about him, other than it was an honor to be associated with him as a coach,” Sheehy said of the senior standout. “I honestly don’t think I deserve any of the credit for what he has done. He’s done all this work to get to where he’s at.”
His time matched that of former Bobcat Alex Graffunder, which was a 3A/2A/1A classification record a year ago. It was also the second-fastest in the state, regardless of classification.
“The guys looked good this year,” Stevens said of the team title. “I’m happy to see (that) it came together. It’s a great group of guys. I’m glad I got to run with them.”
Stevens was joined in the top five by Jack Silveira, who took fifth in a time of 16:44. Sheehy said the success of Stevens and Silveira, who are workout partners, stemmed from pushing each other.
“You really can’t have one of those guys without the other,” Sheehy said. “They each contributed to the other’s success.”
The rest of the Bobcats’ top five runners finished in the top 25 in the state, with Andrew Lackey taking 11th (17:25), Israel O’Reilly 19th (17:46) and Matthew Sheehy, the link to ’78, taking 25th (17:56).
The coach said the state title would not have been possible without the performances of the mid-pack runners.
“We have these guys up front, Tim and Jack, (who) enable us to do great things, (but) championships are won with your 3-4-5 guys,” he said.
Saturday’s success amounted to a blowout win by Union/Cove. St. Stephen’s Academy, the runner-up, was a distant second with 101 points. Heppner/Ione was third with 102.
“They put on a pretty good show today,” Sheehy said. “We put five guys under 18 (minutes), which is something we’ve tried to do. That is a really good sign. We had some people run really, really well — all of them, actually.”
John Gunther of The World newspaper in Coos Bay contributed to this report.